Updated: Oct 4, 2022
The points chase charges on, and after a year of hard-fought battles, the Haro/Fly Racing ride of Kam Larsen looks to repeat his late-season charge. Remembering back to the 2021 season, the Bakersfield-born Men Pro was lighting up the National circuit and headed into the Tulsa as a favorite and battling for the Grand Nationals win during the Friday night pro show. Ending the season with a second-place finish in Tulsa and a third-place spot overall for the 2021 season, Larsen’s speed and confidence were trending in the right direction as the new series was about to begin in 2022.
Sitting here now in late August and watching the days tick down until the next pro series stop, we wanted to check in with Kam and hear what he’s doing to prep for another stellar performance in the late stages of the season.
Living in his new home base of Florida, Larsen is fresh off an international excursion and back to the training grounds in the citrus state. Spending three months abroad hitting World Cups and European rounds, finishing it off with the World Championships in Nantes, France, Larsen has been on the go and experiencing everything it takes to become an even better racer. While he did get a little banged up along the way, Larsen is back to business as he shifts his focus back to the USA BMX Pro Series.
“My late-season push has been pretty decent, but unfortunately, the week before the worlds, I had a little injury on my ankle, so Worlds was a little bit of a bust for me, but now that I'm back home, I’ve had a couple of weeks to regroup, and my eyes are on the rest of the USA BMX season with a couple of big races with Louisville coming up as well as the world cups with the Olympic cycle coming up. Luckily Oldsmar is back open, so I’ve really been spending a lot of time there, it’s been nice because I moved to Florida originally to ride that track, and now it's finally open, so we’ve had good sessions out there working on recovering while putting my head down and working out the kinks to hopefully put some good results down.”
With only seven scores left until the pro classes battle for a spot in the night show in Tulsa, Larsen has some big possible scores to rack up. The next two stops climbing the eight-meter hill for Louisville, Kentucky’s Derby City Nationals and Oldsmar, Florida’s Gator Nationals, Larsen is prepping with as much supercross track time as possible.
“Like a lot of the kids in the sport, we have that small hill base, so for me, it's really about staying comfortable up there (on top of the eight-meter hill). The higher rider count and some of those bigger races are on the big hill, so it's important for me to always stay up there. And as far as the small hill races, I’m really looking forward to having a hometown race again back in Bakersfield.”
Known on the series as a “twitchy’ racer with a great first through third pedal, Larsen has been known to excel to the thirty foot on small hills while the big hill races level the playing field across the board as the class is able to charge to the bottom of the hill together. With his big hill training going hard in Florida, what is Larsen focusing on to get out in front by the kink?
“For me, it’s about getting as strong as I can. Originally, growing up on a small hill, the power-to-weight ratio really helped me. Then it takes kind of a twist when you add the element of the big hill with some of these guys having more weight to push down. As I said, I had a little bit of an injury with that ankle, so I haven’t been able to show my strength with my first couple of pedals, but now that I’m back to 100 percent, I’m trying to get a bit stronger. I’ve got to gain weight and get as strong as I can because I’m racing guys like Cam Wood, Sylvain Andre, or Josh Mclean, who have probably ten pounds on me, which going down a hill is pretty hard to make up.”
Perfecting your gate and maxing out your hill power is all great fun but the real work for the pro-level athletes comes on the track, where track speed and consistency can make or break your race day. Larsen has the home field advantage at Oldsmar BMX, which we predict will come into play at the Derby City Nationals with similar long and low features to their pro sets.
“I’m focused on those second and third straights to keep that track speed and momentum up. Louisville is a staple on the circuit, and last year I had some good results there, so I already know what to expect with the high speed, but all the guys are going to be going Mach-10 just because the speed’s so fast. That being said, making sure your smooth and catching backside is important because it is a little bit tougher to pass when you're going full speed. I’ve been lucky enough to have some rider out here to ride with, and we’ve just been pushing it and trying to go fast and trying to stay smooth.”
It’s interesting Larsen brings up the line of “...catching backside is important because it is a little bit tougher to pass when you're going full speed.” Because we can listen back to the Coffee Chatter’s Rockhill Recap, where Tory Nyhaug and James Palmer discuss the importance of finding ways to pass the competition outside of the turn and utilizing track speed, and anticipating a move in the straightaways.
“That’s one of the bigger things as you get older and get a little bit faster that you’ve got to watch out for because when you’re young, you think about cutting off and getting to the inside as quickly as you can, but as you get older a lot of people have more skills people are faster in different areas, so you have to think of the track as a whole and see how the track is flowing. You can make a pass down the inside, but you then have a turn where you're able to get high-low’d, and all of a sudden, that position goes away from you. I think the biggest opportunities for the pros to pass are those turns and trying to keep momentum without leaving the door open to get a last-minute blast.”
Looking to the future of Kam Larsen’s 2022 schedule, he has a packed couple of months leading up to the season finale in T-Town, Oklahoma. From his sunny training grounds in Florida, Larsen heads to Derby City BMX (Sept 2-3), straight to SoCal for the heated San Diego BMX Holeshot Challenge (Sept 10), then down to Colombia for Bogota’s World Cup (Sept 24-25) traveling back from his southern excursion for an October of hometown nationals with his new home track Oldsmar BMX (Oct 7-8) and his home town of Metro BMX (Oct 21-22).
This is your warning; if you can’t get a hold of Larsen, he’s sleeping, training, or charging out of the gate on his way to a stellar late-season finish.